The ramped-up risk of homegrown terrorism feared from the blood-soaked Islamic State group is now clear and present in New York.
The arrests Wednesday of three Brooklyn men short-circuited alleged plans two had to join the Islamic State group in Syria -- and failing that, to shoot President Barack Obama and police officers, and bomb Coney Island. It is a chilling reminder of the madness that has sadly become a fact of life.
The apprehensions are an example of the extraordinary work federal and local law enforcement has done to prevent terrorism, rather than merely responding after unspeakable tragedy. FBI Director James Comey said the bureau is conducting investigations of violent homegrown extremists in all 50 states. The record is not perfect. The Boston Marathon bombing is a searing example of a terror plot carried out to deadly effect. But the grim reality of terrorists in our midst drives home how irresponsible it is for Congress to hold up funding for the Department of Homeland Security in a game of political chicken.
The U.S. attorney in Brooklyn charged Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, 24; Akhror Saidakhmetov, 19; and Abror Habibov, 30, with conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization. Habibov, who overstayed a temporary visa, allegedly provided money for plane tickets and promised more for weapons. Officials said this threat was aspirational rather than operational.
The men drew the attention of law enforcement in August when Juraboev, a legal permanent resident, allegedly posted a message on a Uzbek-language website expressing allegiance to the murderous Islamic State group and saying he would shoot Obama if ordered, and would bomb Coney Island. Saidakhmetov, also a permanent resident, was allegedly caught on tape saying he would shoot police officers if his plan to go to Syria were thwarted.
Saidakhmetov was seized Wednesday at Kennedy Airport, where he was to board a flight to Turkey en route to Syria. Juraboev had a flight to Turkey booked for next month.
Fortunately, law enforcement officials were a step ahead of this alleged terrorist cell.